Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 03, 2016: The Government of National Unity can follow five fundamental principles to build our Federation stronger and our path toward a more self-sufficient future.
There is a long history of case study in consideration of our government’s nation building approach. Within the last century, we have witnessed other nations rise and fall based on their nation building and nation branding strategies.
India’s brand positioning as a technical hub effectively earned unprecedented increases in their GDP, and it also served as a catalyst in attracting Microsoft and other Fortune 100 national partners. India’s government, accompanied by socio-economic provisions to train a nation in Informational Technology (IT) development, transformed a nation.
In the early 80’s, Korea, an island, invested in the development of massive steel plants to support a national plan advanced by their government. This government-inspired, brand strategy and vision was aimed at developing their global position within the automotive sector. Today, Korea’s global production of brands, such as Hyundai and Kia, has transformed their economy.
A more modern campaign now in play is in Abu Dhabi—currently positioning itself as the new creative hub in the Middle East. And, so showing the value of nation branding.
Nation building must be informed by a clear and established national vision, supported by academic, financial, energy, trade, tourism and other positions that support economic development. Every case study of successful nation building, thus far, can point to a planning document of origin.
There exists a global economy measured by GDP, approximately calculated today at 77 trillion dollars in global trade. Within the Caribbean, our regional economy is measured near 4 billion USD. St. Kitts and Nevis is measured somewhere between 700-800 million USD in GDP. Our Federation will rise and fall based on our national brand and economic value on a world stage. Direct foreign Investment within our borders will either flow in or out based on how effectively we communicate our national story (our value) to the world at large.
How effectively are we conveying opportunity within our Federation? St. Kitts and Nevis’s light manufacturing? Our tourism product? Our Economic Citizenship program? Our global financial products? To answer these questions, we must look critically at our nation building and nation branding plans and projections - and then align our efforts toward global market demands and trends. To realize ROI (return-on-investment), our plan, marketing, PR, and branding expertise and perspectives must be driven and managed by those who possess skill, capability, and perspective in these matters.
Our national brand matters. When viewing our tourism product, our island is now in competition with 30+ other nations focusing on the same ‘sun, sea, and sand’ promotion within our region. What differentiates us, St. Kitts and Nevis, in the mind of an informed visitor to make their choice to visit SKN over Cuba in 2016?
When governments change, there is always the fear of how any current tourism momentum will be affected. SKN is no exception and the previous administration has done an excellent job of maintaining the bullish tourism plans initiated under the previous government. Our Minister of Tourism Lindsay Grant can be praised for the efforts of the previous Minister of Tourism, while at the same time outlining his new initiatives government will be pursuing in 2016 and beyond.
St. Kitts Tourism Authority has reported an increase in stay-over tourist arrivals in 2015. This revenue has been buoyed by the expanded opening of Kittitian Hill’s 400-acre organic farm with luxury guest rooms and villas on the north coast of the island. The reopening of OTI (Ocean Terrace Inn) has increased yacht traffic, also contributing to the increased numbers, as well as cruise tourism which has increased.
In 2016, the UNITY government will break ground on a new cruise ship pier. The Park Hyatt hotel will become the first global, luxury brand to compliment the island. Work on the Koi Resorts property also continues. With this, St. Kitts is poised to become a premier destination in the region in the upcoming years. How we convey our nation’s value to a global audience must be part of our nation branding efforts.
Our national brand for tourism must differentiate St. Kitts from other destinations which is being done through expert storytelling and branding. With 67% of our tourists coming from North America, we must also consider Cuba’s impact on our ‘sun, sea, and sand’ tourism campaigns—again, informed by our 5-10 year tourism plan (a plan that should be clearly prepared and conveyed to the Federation).
When nation building is viewed with the focus on developing institutions, practices, and policy allowing for our people to govern themselves in a peaceful and prosperous way, we gain forward traction. Our economy and people become the benefactors.
Here are some nation building guidelines:
A holistic, nation building framework, presented before The Government of National Unity, communicated to a nation that supports greater prosperity, will do more during the term of this Government than any ad hoc transactional mindset would otherwise produce.
In the past, government officials were driven by public opinion (getting votes), more than perhaps a larger, or transformational agenda. We, the people, must let our government know that we desire a nation building framework that elevates our economy, our people, and our national brand.
This nation building vision and document should be forthcoming.